’Priority is my future’: Pie’s sad career call

2023 AFL Grand Final - Collingwood v Brisbane
Collingwood premiership defender Nathan Murphy has retired aged 24. Picture: Russell Freeman / Getty Images

Collingwood premiership defender Nathan Murphy says he wants to ensure he lives a “full and healthy life” by calling time on his AFL career at only 24 years old.

Murphy informed Magpies teammates of his retirement in an emotional meeting on Tuesday morning after he had sat out the first part of the season due to ongoing concussion concerns.

The star backman was concussed for the 10th time of his football career in the first half of last year’s grand final, with his playing future left to the AFL’s independent concussion panel.

The panel ruled Murphy could return to the field in December, but he decided to retire after withdrawing from Collingwood training on the eve of the pre-season games in February.

“I feel it is the right time and the right decision for me to hang up my footy boots,” Murphy said.

“I love my football, but my priority is on my future and ensuring I live a full and healthy life.

2023 AFL Grand Final - Collingwood v Brisbane
Nathan Murphy (left) celebrates Collingwood’s 2023 premiership victory with Oleg Markov. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

“I’d like to thank the club, coaches, teammates, staff and the Magpie Army for all their support throughout my playing career and for allowing me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of playing AFL.

“To my family and friends, I couldn’t have gone through this journey without your continued love and support which I am so grateful for.

“It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have been able to experience premiership success with this group and Club. I hope I did the jumper proud and thank the many people and supporters who helped me along the way.

“I will forever cherish the memories and friends I’ve made at our great club.”

Murphy, a no-frills defender who played 57 games, was one of the most crucial cogs in Magpies coach Craig McRae’s system as the side rapidly rose to the top ranks of the competition in 2022.

AFL Rd 13 - Collingwood v Melbourne
Murphy played 57 games in seven seasons for Collingwood, with his best years from 2021 to 2023. Picture: Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

Murphy returned to the senior side in round 10, 2022, after a frustrating run of injuries in his first few seasons.

His first 11 games back in the Collingwood side were all wins as he began a brilliant backline partnership with Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe.

Collingwood football boss Brendon Bolton said Murphy would be remembered at the club for his “sheer courage” and significant off-field contributions.

“On behalf of everyone at Collingwood, we thank Nathan for his contribution to our club and commend him on the maturity he has shown throughout this period,” Bolton said.

“Nathan will be remembered as a player who showed sheer courage on the field. His one-on-one efforts and ability to intercept and spoil were second to none. In the backline, Murph had an outstanding ability to read the game, lead, and direct teammates on field.

AFL Rd 7 - Collingwood v Gold Coast
Collingwood footy boss Brendon Bolton says Murphy will be remembered at the Magpies for his ‘sheer courage’. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

“A fun and light-hearted character, Nathan also showed great generosity which is what made him a much-loved member of our club. Away from the field, he made significant contributions within the community space from community coaching to the working in his café.

“Having battled several injuries throughout his career, a credit goes to Nathan’s resilience and perseverance to come back and perform to a high standard on many occasions.

“While we will miss Murph, he’ll forever be a part of Collingwood’s history as a 2023 premiership player. On behalf of the entire club, we wish him all the best for this next chapter.”

Murphy is the sixth AFL player to retire due to the effects of concussion in a 12-month period, joining Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne), Paddy McCartin (Sydney), Paul Seedsman (Adelaide), Marcus Adams (Brisbane) and Max Lynch (Hawthorn).

He was in the final year of his contract but could access compensation through the AFLPA’s career-ending payout rule.